Kara Kulpa talks about using imagination to engage preschoolers in fun and dynamic music classes.
Kara Kulpa is a Boston based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a degree in Music Therapy. Kara is the Outsourcing Director for Preschool Music Programming, Preschool Music Enrichment, and Preschool Music Teachers at Jammin' With You!
JWY!: What got you started in teaching preschool and kids music classes? KK: I have a degree in music therapy and practiced for awhile before I moved to Boston. I met Josh at Jammin' With You! and he got me started doing JamBaby classes. I thought it was so fun! I then taught a JamKids class at Beaver Summer Camp for 3-5 yrs olds and had the time of my life. I decided from that point that this was what I wanted to do.
I began booking preschool music classes all over the Newton, Natick, Sudbury, Framingham, Brookline, Wellesley, Weston, Needham, and Wayland areas. One aspect of my education that helped me a lot with successful classes, is the behavior management techniques I learned through being a therapist. Before the students can enjoy the music, you first need to engage them, and keep their attention. It takes a specific skill set it takes to get 15, four-year-olds focused on you. You’re not performing for them, you’re playing with them.
Watch Kara Kulpa at Beaver Summer Camp!
JWY!: How do you use imagination in your music classes? KK:The engagement with imagination is something that sets Jammin’ With You teachers apart from run of the mill teacher. Imagination is systematically taken out of us as we get older. We think of things as more and more specific and lose a little imagination. There’s a lot more room for creative thinking when you're kids. For example, I know I'm handing out scarves but I need to train myself to show that I’m actually handing out ice cream, maybe even broccoli flavored ice cream. The kids will be right there with you, being silly and imaginative.
JWY!:What are the different programs you bring into schools? KK:In a daycare setting we bring a combo of JamBaby and JamKidscurriculum. We’re getting up and moving around, working on impulse control, learning colors, and incorporating curriculum in fun and engaged way. If the students are learning about nature in class, the teacher will sing a nature song where the students can apply their new learning. We also use transitions between songs to reinforce learning, for example asking for only the green shakers when cleaning up. We're globalizing learning throughout each step of the class.
JWY!:What is one of your favorite songs to perform with kids? KK: There are so many songs I love to do, but one of my favorites is "I'm Just a Cowboy". When I do this song, I set it up by saying “We’re gonna go on an adventure, does anyone wanna go?” "We might encounter some things that might be scary, but we are not scared, show me brave faces!" "We’re not even afraid of rattle snakes. Can I hear, rattle snakes?" I shake bag of shakers and we pretend they are rattle snakes then pass them out. "Everyone hold onto your reins!"
Throughout the song I add in different imaginative concepts. We pretend we're coming into town, and we wave and say "howdy ma'am". Then we merge onto highway and pretend we're going faster and faster. The possibilities are endless!
Check out Kara's demonstration of I'm Just A Cowboy!
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1. Not Fully Understanding the Music- If the student doesn't understand parts of the piece they are assigned they may give up on practicing because it's too hard. Be sure to introduce new skills slowly and methodically. For example don't assign a piece where they will be learning new chords and new rhythms at the same time. If a piece is more challenging it's often helpful to only practice one hand at a time at a slow tempo.
2. Inadequate Practice Chair/Stand- Pianos are built for adult-sized people to play, so when we have young kids at the piano it's important to make adjustments. Kids should have something to rest their feet on if their feet cannot touch the floor. This can be solved with a foot stool, or even a plank used for step aerobics. They should also be high enough on the chair so their arms are parallel with the floor and they are not reaching up for the keys. Many piano benches are adjustable and can be brought up high enough. If you use a keyboard on a stand make sure the stand is sturdy and not wobbling back and forth while the student plays. Also make sure it's at the correct height.
3. Distracting environment- Is your student's sibling in the the same room playing video games while practice is going on? Or is your student trying to practice in the middle of a play date? If possible, put the piano or keyboard in a quiet room where there won't be distractions of TV, other kids, phone calls etc.
4. Uninteresting repertoire- It's important to assign music that will develop your student's musical skills to the fullest extent, but if they are not finding these pieces exciting to play make sure to find supplementary material. If they are resistant to sightreading, mix it up with flashcards and games before you play the piece. Often times the only reason they don't want to read music is because it is too challenging for them. If your student loves a particular song off the radio, teach them the chords and use the opportunity to discuss intervals and triads. Any song, no matter how simple can be used as a learning opportunity.
5. Wrong Time of Day- We all know that life can get pretty darn busy, and practice can fall to the end of the list on some days. It's unrealistic to expect a child to focus on practice at 7pm after a long day of activities. Take a realistic look at your schedule and remember that piano isn't just an activity once a week when the teacher comes- there should be at least 5 other days in the week of practice time. Often times it works better to practice before school. If there are days that are just too busy for practice it's better to consider those off days than to force it and make practice a stressful activity. Plan when your best times for practice are and try to stick with a routine. The more a student practices the more fun they will have because they'll be playing for the joy of music, not just figuring out notes.
6. Not enough praise- We expect a lot of our students but it's important to remember that the fact that they are even sitting down to practice is a feat in itself. While it's important to gently point out mistakes and areas where your child can improve, make sure they know how proud you are that they are keeping up with a consistent practice routine!
It seems like colds always have a way of hitting right before a big performance. Those first few sniffles days before a show can bring a feeling horror. Unfortunately colds are a fact of life that not even superstars can escape. I recently saw a world famous band play a sold out show where the lead singer was complaining of a cold, and watched an interview with Alicia Keys who came down with a cold days before her Grammy Award performance. Do not fret, there are measures you can take from the first sign of a cold to ensure the speediest recovery.
If your cold is in your sinuses (i.e you just feel "stuffed up") and not in your lungs it means your vocal chords are probably healthy enough to sing. If you start getting a bad cough and are getting hoarse it's best to rest your voice and if at all possible cancel your show.
The best way to deal with phlegm is with light vocalizing. This will keep your voice supple and flexible and cause the phlegm to vibrate off. Practice singing at a low volume on EE vowel scales and glissando's (start from you highest pitch and slide down to your lowest pitch).
Try to move the the keys of your songs down. When you have a cold you lose clear access to your high falsetto notes and passagio notes (notes in the "break" of your range between chest and head voice). The voice will tend to be shifted lower, with a thicker tone. If possible, move your songs into a lower key.
You know the drill when you're sick: sleep tons, drink tons, have some chicken noodle soup, and wash your hands. Here are some other tricks of the trade:
1. Neti Pot- A neti pot looks like a small teapot. You fill it with special salt and warm water and gently rinse out your nasal passages. This is a great natural way to clear out your nasal passages. It is recommended that you use a neti pot regularly even when your not sick. It clears
out bacteria to help prevent you from getting sick and also helping with allergies. Make sure to only use the special salt intended for neti pots.
2. Inhale Steam- Inhaling steam is a very effective soothing method for you vo
cal cords and lungs, especially is you have a lot of phlegm in your lungs. Remember, drinking tea and water is great for hydration but it does not touch your vocal cords directly. The only way to get moisture directly onto your chords is by inhaling it.
3. Zinc- Take zinc as soon as your first symptoms occur. Zinc can shorten the duration of your cold and make you less contagious. You can also try zinc spray for your throat and zinc swabs for your nose.
4. Mucinex (Guaifenesin)- Guaifenesin is in a class of medications called expectorants. It works to relieve chest congestion by thinning the mucus in the air passages to make it easier to cough up the mucus and clear the airways. Remember to drink lots of water with this medication. If possible, avoid "cough suppressants" and stick with expectorants like mucinex. Cough suppressants will just make the phlegm stay in your lungs for longer delaying recovery.
In the end, there is nothing fun about singing with a cold. Do your best to prevent sickness by getting proper rest, plenty of fluids, washing your hands often, exercising to circulate blood, and monitoring stress. If you have to sing with a cold, be sure to go home and rest your voice straight afterwards. Rock on!
It is always fun to mix up practicing with fun games. The best way to become skilled at reading music and other musical concepts is to drill the information regularly. The more times your brain has to recognize and identify the notes, the more automatic it will become. Playing the games below will improve musical knowledge, sight-reading, and rhythm. These games are easy to access on your browser and a great supplement to practice on any instrument.
Compose Your Own Music- Drag notes into the staff, and create your own song that you can send to your friends! This is a great and creative way to practice your musical notation skills.
Musical Memory Game- Play back the notes that are played. This game helps students to memorize patterns.
Mission To Magmamon- You get sent to the musical planet of Toness where the inhabitants only communicate through music and tones. Get through volcanos, pirates, and trpas with your music skills! Very fun.
Composer Time Machine- Scroll through time different time periods and find the composers of that time. Hear their music and learn about different styles such as Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern.
Make piano practice fun by playing simple songs from the radio and singing along. This is a great way to drill new chords and improve rhythm and groove. Learning to accompany yourself while you play is a valuable skill to have. Here are 5 songs on the radio that beginners can learn!
1. Fallin' (Alicia Keys) - 2 chords!
Fallin' goes back and forth between Emin and Bmin7 for the whole song. Each chord gets 4 beats.
Notes in Emin: E-G-B
Noten in Bmin7: B-D-F#-A
2. Dynamite (Bruno Mars)- 4 chords!
The verses and chorus of Dynamite repeat Am, C, G, & F. Each chord gets 4 beats.
Notes in Am chord: A-C-E
Notes in C chord: C-E-G
Notes in G chord: G-B-D
Notes in F chord: F-A-C
3. Come Together (The Beatles)- 4 chords!
Come Together rotates between Dmin (4 bars), A7 (2 bars), and G7 (2 bars). The hook line is Bmin (1 bar) and G (1 bar).
Notes in Dmin chord- D-F-A
Notes in A7 chord- A-C#-E-G
Notes in G7 chord- G-B-D-F
Notes in Bmin chord- B-D-F#-A
4. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)- 3 chords!
This very fun song rotates between E, A, B, A in the verse (2 beats each), and A, B, A for the 2 lines of the chorus (2 beats each). When the line "don't it feel good!" comes along, the chords go back to E, A, B, A.
Notes in E chord- E-G#-B
Notes in A chord- A-C#-E
Notes in B chord- B-D#-F#
5. Hey Ya (OutKast)- 4 chords!
This song rotates between G (1 bar), C (2 bars), D (2 beats),
E (2 bars). Watch out for the 2/4 bar on the D chord!
Notes in G chord- G-B-D
Notes in C chord-C-E-G
Notes in D chord- D-F#-A
Notes in E chord- E-G#-B
Jammin' With You offers in-home lessons for all ages. Currently serving Massachusetts and New York. Please visit http://www.jamminwithyou.com for more information.
Kids Music- Top 10 Cutest Songs Ever Here are some of the cutest kids songs I have heard! In no particular order.
Bear to the Left - Billy Jonas A very clever song about using animal names to give directions. It’s a very easy song to sing together and my students love it. This would be a great song to learn as a family and sing together all you need is a leader to remember the words. This song will surely be a family favorite to “Horse Around” with! Billy Jonas: http://www.billyjonas.com/
All I Really Need - Raffi
Such a beautiful song about the basics that we need in our life, “song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family.” Sometimes we get caught up in what we “need”.“Mom, I need that new toy”, “I really need a vacation” , “I really need, a new car” but this song reminds us that we really need love, music and food to survive. I think this is a great song to sing together as a family.
Raffi Singing on Broadway! Who knew Raffi was on Broadway?
Red Red Robin - Rosie Flores Red Red Robin is an older song, but Roise Flores puts a country, rockabilly feel to it. It makes this song upbeat and fun! I love the mix of the guitar and her vocals. I found this song off of the album Sing Along With Putumayo. Rosie Flores is a fantastic artist and her new album “Girl of the Century” is worth a look!
Be Kind To Your Parents - Pete Seeger So the first line may not seem so cute to parents “Be kind to your parents, though they don’t deserve it...” but this song is very cute. This song helps children remember parents once were kids too! I had a student sing this at this years SuperJam and it went over very well with our audience. I really enjoy the last line, “Someday you may wake up and find your a parent too!” Pete Seeger-http://www.last.fm/music/Pete+Seeger/_/Be+Kind+to+Your+Parents
Sunny Side of the Street - Fox and Branch “Grab your coat and grab your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep now, direct your feet to the sunny side of the street” What a positive message this old classic song sings! Fox and Branch give it a fun groove using such instruments as the washboard, spoons and a kazoo. This song makes me smile everytime!
Smile Smile Smile - Dan Zanes Speaking of smiling... “Every time I think of you I smile for a while, that’s the one thing you always do is smile smile smile” What a great message to any family member or friend. “Your big heart circles the world every time you smile!” This song fills your head of fun and crazy things we do together like singing broadway songs and passing the baton as we run. Another song that just makes my heart grow every time I hear it! Smile, Smile,Smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9RXgP1nAk8 SO CUTE
Belly Button Song - Music For AArdvarks & Other Mammals How fun is this guys voice as he is singing about Belly Buttons! Enough Said! Music for Aardvarks: http://www.musicforaardvarks.com/
If You Wanna Sing Out, Sing Out- Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem Originally written by Cat Stevens, this version is a bit more upbeat and still sings the positivity of the original. The vocals are clear and harmonize lovely together. This is the first track on their album Racky Tacky which also has alot of other great tunes!
I Will Be Your Friend- Guy Davis Very cute friendship song! This song is all about taking care of one another and reminding each other of our love. What a great message for anyone at any age. Make sure to send this to the friend that takes care of you.
Sunflower - Flooky & the Beans Local Boston kids band Flooky & the Beans has many great songs, and their shows are great fun for all! This one is about beautiful Sunflowers. It is a very soothing song. The harmonies that the band really helps you enjoy the lyrics. “Add a little sunshine, grow so high, add a little rain, grow so high, add a little food, grow so high, add a little love, grow so high” Oh and that is Josh Shriber, our Director singing! Go Josh!
Make piano practice fun by playing these 3 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 list! Learning to accompany yourself while you play is a valuable skill to have. Here are 3 songs on the radio that beginners can learn!
1.All About That Bass (Meghan Trainor) - 4 chords!
This song follows a cycle of the following 4 chords: A, Bm, E, and A, with the exception of the two lines below that come at the end of each verse:
"Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top": A (2 beats), D (2 beats), A (4 beats)
"If that's what you're into then go ahead and move along": E (4 beats), D (4 beats), A (2 bars)
Notes in A chord: A-C#-E
Notes in Bm chord: B-D-F#
Notes in E chord: E-G#-B
Notes in D chord: D-F#-A
2. I'm Not The Only One (Sam Smith) - 4 chords!
This song cycles the following chords: F-A-Dm-Bb (each chord gets 2 beats), with the two exceptions below:
*The chords for the end of each verse and chorus are: F(4 beats), C (2 beats), F (2 beats)
*Bridge: Bb-F-A-Dm (last time Bb) - each chord gets 4 beats
Notes in F chord: F-A-C
Notes in A chord: A-C#-E
Notes in Dm chord: D-F-A
Notes in Bb chord: Bb-D-F
3. Something in the Water (Carrie Underwood) - 5 chords!
Verse: C-D (each chord gets 4 beats)
Chorus & Bridge: G-Bm-Em-C (each chord gets 4 beats) *last chord of bridge replaces C chord with D chord
Jammin' With You! teams up with the LoVE Foundation to auction off two amazing tickets to the Dave Matthews Band concert on 11/09/2010 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, MA. The tickets also come with VIP hospitality lounge passes, and an author-signed copy of the soon-to-be-released Dave Matthews Band book. To read more about this event, please click here: www.jamminwithyou.com/dmbdonation
Summer has arrived! And this summer we would like to take a moment to interview our teachers and see what their summer fun includes! First up Rob Morrison!
Jammin' With You!: What do you teach at JWY! Rob Morrison:Guitar, piano, theory + voice (plus life experience)
JWY!:What have you learned from teaching lessons to JWY! students? RM:I have learned that there are many learning styles and personalities and therefore there must be alternative teaching methods to accomodate each student.
JWY!: What do you think is different about teaching in a studio vs. in-home music lessons?
RM:The student is generally more comfortable learning at home, but the teacher has to work harder to keep their attention.
JWY!: How have you influenced kids while teaching? AND How have they influenced you?
RM:I feel like I have broadened the horizons of my students by introducing them to improvisation and songwriting at early stages of their musical education. My students have taught me the untrained ear has a lot to offer musically and can produce fresh ideas without the impedence of too much conventional wisdom.
JWY!: What is your favorite summer tune to Jam out to?
RM:Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles
JWY!: What was the best summer concert you went to?
RM:This year, it was Jethro Tull at the Bank of America Pavillion.
JWY!: Is there anything exciting that you are doing over the summer?
RM:I'm taking little vacations to Martha's Vineyard, Vermont, the Cape and Montreal.
JWY!: Where is your favorite place to play music during the summer?
RM:Anywhere outside. Last year my band, Stroamata, played the outdoor festival Harpoon Summer Session, but this summer, you might find me busking (musician-speak for playing for tips in the street) in the public parks of downtown Boston before or after lessons. Barbeques, pool parties or roofdecks are just as good.